The View From Bolton St

Joy and Pain: Palm Sunday and the Passion

“Why?” The regular church attending Episcopalian is prone to ask, “Do we read the passion on Palm Sunday?  Isn’t this supposed to be a festive day?” Quite a few will even suggest that ‘we never USED to do that.” Even I myself, in trying to remember the ‘old ways’ don’t remember the passion being read on Palm Sunday. Just the pageantry of the palms and ‘all glory laud and honor’ and the triumphant procession. 

What I have learned (and perhaps you have also learned) is that I was wrong.  In fact the Church has read the passion on Palm Sunday off and on since perhaps the beginning of the Church itself. Certainly as far back as the 300’s in Jerusalem.  So “why?” Why our dislike for this tradition and why do we ‘forget’ that it happened?

Well perhaps this practice exists to remind us how easy it is to forget.  As a people, it is often easier for us to remember the good things we have done than the bad things.  No one likes to remember their troubles and their calamities after all, and if we could make them go away we certainly would! And History is littered with the convenient forgetting of the evils done by us or on our behalf, even as we benefit from the outcomes today.  

So it is with Palm Sunday.  We LOVE to remember the palms, the procession, the celebration, the entry of Jesus as King into Jerusalem! But it is harder for us to remember his arrest, his condemnation, and his death.  Palm Sunday is a day when we are torn between Joy and Pain.  Between the height of Jesus ministry and the depth of his descent in to hell.  Holy Week is a time for remembering.  And while it may seem inconvenient, uncomfortable or just annoying to ‘remember’ Jesus death on a glorious spring day, it is important for us to remember.  It is important remember because in remembering Jesus’ death we are reminded that God remembers us in our own tragedies and calamities.  ‘Then God remembered Noah’ ‘Remembered Moses’ ‘Remembered his people Israel’. God remembers and comes for his people, just as God will come for us, if we, in turn can remember God and his son Jesus.  

Holy Week Passports

Hello!

This year Holy Week Passports have come to Memorial! These passports are for the youngest to the oldest here at Memorial. Each service you receive a sticker marking your participation! Similar to when you travel you get your passport stamped.

These Stickers are fun but they also represent your spiritual journey during holy week. Each service there is a question to help you focus your thoughts on the service. There is also a chance for you to say the Lord’s Prayer. I urge you to take this time and cherish it during Holy Week.

If you would like a Passport but did not get one from my lovely helpers on Sunday stop by and let me know! we will also be passing out our first Sticker! See you Sunday!

-Hannah :)

The View From Bolton St.

A Suggested Lenten Discipline:  Be carful who you Worship

For most of you reading this, this seems like an easy thing to do. You may have even laughed! “Finally a Lenten Discipline I have no problem with!”  I am on safe ground that President Trump is not a very popular person at my little church in Baltimore, or indeed in quite a few Episcopal Churches around the country.  Even in those churches that are substantially ‘redder’ than Memorial, Worshipping any President, even if they agree with their policy decisions, should not be on their mind at all.

But, let me suggest that perhaps you have not fully considered just how much you do ‘Worship’ President Trump, particularly those of you who consider yourself in fierce opposition to him.   Consider for a moment - do you spend more time in a day reading about Jesus? Or about what ‘The Donald’ has done?(Ezra 4:2) Are you more likely to be emotionally impacted by a New York Times story about something from the White House?(Jeremiah 44:19)  Or from the Gospel of Luke? Are you more worried, concerned, FEARFUL(Joshua 22:25) of the actions of Donald Trump? Or of God’s working in the world? Who is more likely to bring you to depress you(Isaiah 45:14)? To bring you to your knees? To ‘make you stoop’(Proverbs 12:25)? In fact many of the ways we have allowed our hearts, minds and energies to be co-opted by the current occupant of the White House have brought us dangerously close to worshipping him - not because we believe he his God or an Emissary of God, but because we spend so much of our energy convincing ourselves he is not.  

You may be familiar with the oft-repeated line that ‘Fear’ and ‘worship’ come from the same word in Hebrew, which has some truth, but as you can see from the above list, there are many different ways worship is expressed in Hebrew, that involve fear, attention, prostration, desperation, carving out our time and attention, occupying all of our energy.  And I think more than a few of us have been guilty of allowing these emotions and behaviors guide our behavior with respect to the 45th President. On the one hand this is very natural; it was an unexpected election and many of his actions have been and continue to be shocking and appalling. However, on the other hand most of the most shocking behavior has been short lived or limited in scope, and the better angels of our collective American nature have worked quickly to put an end to a full muslim ban, the continued detention of children, the separation of families, and other such behaviors.  

In the Old Testament, we over and over see the people of Israel condemned by God because they forget to worship God and instead spend their time worshipping false Gods, idols, and other things.  Invariably these moments come in times of great economic, social an existential crisis. And in moments of crisis it is tempting to devote our energies to ‘more important’ or ‘more critical’ things than Godly worship.  But isn’t that exactly what those false Gods want? For us to forget our common understanding of God and each other in order to get what ‘WE’ want? Isn’t that exactly what those who would seek to divide our nation desire?  To see us too busy being fearful, angry, engaged, and ‘vigilant’ to step back and give thanks to God? To step back and seek God’s advice, intercession, forgiveness?

Now - let me say that worshipping God more fully, and embracing Jesus more directly may not do anything to stop whatever distasteful things come out of the White House. There will still be work to do, and still be help, assistance and support needed for those who have been hurt, temporarily or permanently by such actions.  But it will bring Christians of all backgrounds and practices more closely together, it will keep us united in our bonds of common affection and common humanity, and it will make it easier to respond to the very many and sundry evils that continue to exist and are perpetuated out in the world. Whether they begin at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, A terrorist haven in Pakistan, a drug corner in West Baltimore, or a coal fired power plant in West Virginia. Because we will do so not as individuals acting against a larger evil, but as a united body of believers seeking to make God’s kingdom more of a reality here today.  

So friends, spend some time as you read this considering just how much you ‘worship’ Donald Trump, or any political or public figure you ‘love to hate’, and how your life might be different if you spent more of that time seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus instead.


Confirmation Class

Welcome to the Third week of lent.  This week we begin to think more deeply about Jesus’ turning form his mission and ministry to his ultimate sacrifice on the cross. And how we begin to prepare ourselves to encounter again that most sacred story.  I hope your lenten walk is going well.  

If you are interested in Confirmation in the Episcopal Church (full membership - to serve on vestry, boards, diocesan committees, etc.) or just for learning more about the Christian faith and ‘the episcopal branch of the jesus movement’ - please plan to join us for our Inquirers class - beginning April 3rd. 

Classes will meet Wednesday nights from April 3rd through June 5th at 7 pm in the Rectory.  Classes will run for an hour. (Let me know if you need child care and we can arrange it!) 

You don’t have to attend every class, but I ask that you not miss more than two if you want to be confirmed.  

Confirmation will be June 9th at the Memorial when Bishop Sutton visits.  If that day doesn’t work for you we can find another day/time when the bishop is visiting nearby or for a service at the Cathedral. 

The curriculum we use is called ‘confirm not conform’ which should tell you a lot about what the curriculum is intended to do (namely - NOT force you to believe anything - but lift up lots of questions for you to develop your own understanding of God and Jesus and the Church, and see if it is compatible with the Episcopal Church).  

I would really love for you to join if possible. 

BUT you say ‘Grey I’m already confirmed in the Catholic Church’ - don’t worry! You can still participate. For Catholics and others confirmed in other traditions instead of ‘confirmation’ you will be received into the Episcopal Church. The service is almost the same with a small difference.  If you come to the first session maybe you will hear Monica’s Story about her ‘drive by’ reception! 

Holy Week Schedule

9:45 am Palm Sunday Procession (beginning at McMechen and Park Avenue) 

10:30 am Palm Sunday

M-W Holy Week Eucharist 5:30 pm 

Maundy Thursday 7:00 pm  (Agape meal at 6:30 pm)

Good Friday - Noon at St Katherine of Alexandria

Holy Saturday 9:00 am 

Easter Vigil 8:30 pm 

Easter Sunday 10:30 am


Holy Week 2019 (2).png

The View from Bolton St.

From now on...

“From now on we regard no one from a human point of view”

It’s fair to say that Paul’s bold statement to the Corinthians here was... aspirational.  Either that or humankind has taken some big steps back since Paul’s day. But it is perhaps enough to say that the early Christian community sincerely desired to no longer see anyone from a human point of view. No more Jew or Greek, slave or free, woman or man, black or white, rich or poor. Just children of God.

Why? Because, as Paul states we once saw Jesus from a human point of view. We saw him as a poor Palestinian Jew of no account. A poor man with a few friends who was born to the wrong parents in the wrong city at the wrong time.  We saw him as the lowly son of a carpenter. As a refugee. As a outcast. As less than. 

And what a mistake it was! Paul made that mistake, the Authorities made that mistake, even his own followers made that same mistake at times! And all those mistakes led to the death of the incarnate God in all of God’s self on the cross. It led to the darkest day one could imagine.

So you MAY think I am going to tell you that we should also no longer see each other from a human point of view. Right? Don’t see the color, the height, the waist line, the dress, the style, the country of origin, the political affiliation of those who come into our doors and into our lives. And sure that would be nice:

But first we need to ask ourselves - do we still see Jesus from a human point of view? Or do we now see Jesus from God’s point of view? Is Jesus the poor Palestinian - or the incarnate God? Is Jesus a teacher - or a savior? Is Jesus living? Or dead?

Because we cannot see each other as other than from a human point of view until we can see Jesus from God’s point of view.  Until we can take seriously the divinity of Christ, until we can believe that God came into the world in this most unexpected way for us! And to love us! We can never truly see each other as anything more than human. 

So who is Jesus for you? Can you imagine this most unexpected savior? This most unlikely Lord?

The View From Bolton St.

You are standing on holy ground.

This week in the Old Testament reading, we are reminded of Moses’ direct encounter with the divine in the form of a burning bush. It’s dramatic imagery of a burning bush that flames but is not consumed! and it called out to Moses, calling those him out of his exile and sending him back to Egypt. It is so so dramatic and so compelling that sometimes we forget exactly what God is calling Moses about!

Has that ever happened to you? Do you ever have such a dramatic or emotional encounter that you are stuck with the memory of the moment but have perhaps forgotten the content of the conversation? I think that happens to us when we learn about the death of a loved one, or an unexpected job opportunity, or a new relationship or even a broken relationship. And a day or so later we find ourselves wondering, what exactly did that doctor say? Or what exactly am I supposed to do now?

So it is, perhaps, with the burning bush. We as people of the book, hear the story and remember the moment but forget what God calls us to. So let’s take a moment to remember.

“I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

God doesn’t call Moses to talk to Moses. Just as God has not called us to talk to us. But God called Moses to send him to free his people. God has seen their misery and heard their cries And needs Moses to do something about it. And so perhaps God has seen misery and heard the cries today and needsus to do something about it as well.

What will you do then with the burning bush? what will you do with the misery that surrounds us? Complain? Vent on Facebook? Move? Give up?

Or listen to God’s call for I go into Egypt, into the slave pits, into the challenge and seek to free Gods people?

But perhaps it is you that needs liberation? Perhaps you feel trapped? Stuck? Perhaps you feel like you have “impostor syndrome” and are worried of being found out? This is serious business.

Then join us - for bible study on Wednesday’s, for the Stations of the cross on Friday, for liturgy and living on Sunday and ask those questions of your faith. Or join us for confirmation classes starting in April if you have real questions! Real challenges! Because God embraces your challenges and loves your questions — and seeks to provide you a way forward in faith and in community.